dba James Is Doing Business As Usual

dba James © Alec Ilstrup
dba James © Alec Ilstrup
It was a busy night for music in New York as dba James sold out another “Day Off” residency show at Heaven Can Wait; the night saw sets from Sid Simons, Middle Part, and Keegan Konsor, with Anna Shoemaker and Kristos spinning DJ mixes in between the bill.
by guest writer Noah Berghammer
Stream: “7*” – dba James

Finally back in New York after a long hiatus of writing across the pond in London, James McDermott, aka dba James, had another sold out “Day Off” at Heaven Can Wait on Avenue A; it was his 5th sold out residency show at the venue, and a see-and-be-seen kinda night for the downtown music scene.

James shared a bill with Sid Simons and one of his darlings, Zach Saffo, who played a gorgeous set featuring some unreleased treasures. Then, Andy Selkow, who is ½ of Middle Part and also James’ temporary roommate, played a rare acoustic solo set that stole the hearts of the crowd that was rapidly filling up as the night went on. Next, the synth-pop, high energy, half-shaved head artist, Keegan Konsor, jumped his way through an exciting performance that hyped up the twenty-somethings waiting to see James’ first show in months.

dba James © Noah Berghammer
dba James © Noah Berghammer

After another cigarette and one last DJ mix by Kristos and New York’s indie-sweetheart, Anna Shoemaker, James finally emerged onto the stage; he wore a black blazer, his eyes were covered in dark eyeliner, and he had a pair of signature Pitter-Patter table legs standing next him with a bottle of Stella Artois balanced on top.

Then, James did what he does best; he rocked. He brought forth his charming frontman tendencies, delivered his catchy hooks, and let out a few infectious post-chorus screams. Everybody, including myself, bopped back and forth with their hands in the shape of “rock on” and sang along to his genre-bending discography.

James’ set featured a perfect combination of his classic hits like “Trad Future” and “My World,” where his breathy vocals and seductive lyrics lead the way, as well as a pair of new and unreleased records titled “Cards” and “Drive Home.”

Let me tell you, they are catchy as hell; sonically, they pay homage to early 2000s pop-punk legends like Good Charlotte, blink-182, and All American Rejects, while simultaneously sounding new and fresh and entirely like dba James.

dba James © Noah Berghammer
dba James © Noah Berghammer

The ode to a punk presence makes you wonder if James may one day reprise his role as frontman of the cult-followed, deep-cut punk-band Bay Faction. I suppose one can dream, right?

During James’ closer, I caught a glimpse of Andy from Middle Part screaming every lyric and head-banging from the side of the stage. It’s the best part of what’s happening in New York’s music scene right now; everyone knows, loves, and supports each other. In an industry that’s predominantly pop and LA-focused, New York has a small circle of talented indie musicians who are trailblazers in curating an engaged audience for live shows. James is one of the best at it. His fans, as well as the other artists in New York genuinely love his music and care about seeing him perform. And it’s the good kind of clique where the more you show up, the more you feel a part of everything that’s happening.

dba James © Alec Ilstrup
dba James © Alec Ilstrup

Just as I was grabbing my coat from the green room to leave and head over to the village to catch a late night pop-up Telescreens’ show at The Bitter End, I ran into Jackson Hamm… the frontman of the Telescreens. He and his band were due on stage in less than 40 minutes, and there he was, taking in his friend James’ set a few neighborhoods over.

Say what you want about LA being the hub for good talent in music, because I look around Heaven Can Wait on a Friday night in February and I see rockstars in every corner. Anybody who’s here in New York and actually paying attention can feel it, too.

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Noah Berghammer is a 24-year-old film director and writer who lives in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He has worked with brands like Reza, JB3 Official, and Zara, and has been featured in Alternative Press Magazine, Nylon Magazine, and Rolling Stone Magazine, among others. Instagram: @noah.bergs // Website: noahbergscreative.com

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